World Meteorological Organisation figures show global temperature is 1.2C above pre-industrial levels and will set a new high for the third year running. 2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row, according to the UN. It means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century.
The scorching temperatures around the world, and the extreme weather they drive, mean the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, published on Monday at the global climate summit in Morocco, found the global temperature in 2016 is running 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. This is perilously close to to the 1.5C target included as an aim of the Paris climate agreement last December.
The El Niño weather phenomenon helped push temperatures even higher in early 2016 but the global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities remains the strongest factor.
“Another year. Another record,” said WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas. “The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.”
Arctic ice reached its equal second-lowest extent in the satellite record in September while warm oceans saw coral mortality of up to 50% in parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
“As the El Niño wanes, we don’t anticipate that 2017 will be another record-breaking year,” said Dr Peter Stott at the UK’s Met Office. “But 2017 is likely to be warmer than any year prior to the last two decades because of the underlying extent of [human-caused] warming due to the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases”.